New Jersey’s first offshore wind farm hits a milestone – and one county is fighting all of it

The first monopile for Ocean Wind 1, New Jersey’s first offshore wind farm, has been built at a New Jersey manufacturing facility – and Cape May County isn’t happy about any of it.

New Jersey’s first offshore wind farm

July 6 update: An even bigger milestone occurred yesterday – the US Department of the Interior announced the approval of the construction and operation of the Ocean Wind 1 project. So that okays 98 turbines and up to three offshore substations. It’s slated to be finished in 2025.

It’s all systems go.

The monopile foundation – that’s the steel tube that’s driven into the seabed – was built at EEW American Offshore Structures factory in Paulsboro, New Jersey, near Philadelphia. Ocean Wind 1 is creating hundreds of construction and permanent manufacturing jobs in South Jersey.

The 1,100 megawatt (MW) Ocean Wind 1, which is owned solely by Danish wind giant Ørsted, will consist of up to 98 GE Haliade X 12 MW turbines, and it will be capable of powering around 380,000 households. It will be located 15 miles southeast of Atlantic City. The plan is for completion by the end of 2024.

The state of New Jersey has set a goal of achieving 7,500 MW of offshore wind energy by 2035.

Electrek’s Take

This is a very exciting milestone, but not everyone in New Jersey thinks so.

The County Board of County Commissioners and the Chamber of Commerce of Cape May, a county south of Atlantic City, opposes Ocean Wind 1 because it thinks it’s going to adversely affect marine life, and that “windmills will be visible from every beach in Cape May County,” according to a press release. They describe the offshore wind farm’s impact as “potentially devastating.”

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management published Ocean Wind 1’s Final Environmental Impact Statement on May 26, and it found that the project’s plans are responsible, and that it prioritizes the preservation of natural resources, wildlife, and other important environmental factors.

Ørsted addresses environmental impact on its website by providing a link to a study about the impact of wind farms on property prices in the journal Energy Policy from the universities of Copenhagen and Pretoria. The study found no negative impact of offshore wind farms on property prices.

The Cape May folks state that they don’t feel heard or respected by Ørsted, but it’s not clear what it is that they actually want. They cite a Harvard Gazette story in their press release – I had to ask them for it, as their was no link – called “The Downside to Wind Power,” which isn’t about offshore wind farms; it’s about land-based wind farms. And they also sent me an article from the UK’s conservative-leaning Telegraph by Bryan Leyland, a climate denial activist from New Zealand. Leyland’s group, the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, has been funded by the US’s Heartland Institute, a climate denier group in Virginia.

Heartland has worked with the fossil fuel and tobacco industries to deny both of their impacts on human health. We’ve covered their false claims opposing wind power before, when in fact fossil fuels and transatlantic shipping are the actual primary concerns for the health of Virginia’s marine life.

So I just can’t take Cape May County government’s objections seriously, as their sources aren’t relevant or credible. There’s more than a whiff of politics, not science, around their objections.

I look forward to seeing Ocean Wind 1 come online.

Read more: New Jersey will now require all-electric car sales by 2035

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